Scranton, Pa

Berks County Sting Led to Eight Arrested for Human Trafficking

Posted: March 28, 2023

The Berks County District Attorney’s Office has charged  eight individuals who were arrested during an undercover investigation coordinated by their Human Trafficking Task Force and the Department of Homeland Security. The individuals who were charged include Elvis Diaz, 34, Isaiah Speight, 25, Eriec Ruiz, 46, Joshua Spencer, 38, Keith Washington, 33, Muazong Kha, 30, Corey Moll, 37, and Matthew Fisher, 47. These men face charges of  multiple offenses, including criminal attempt of trafficking individuals, criminal attempt of statutory sexual assault, criminal attempt of corruption of minors, criminal attempt of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, and unlawful contact with minor.

Berks County District Attorney John Adams said that “Operation Catch a Predator” was created to locate perpetrators who were using sex apps. District Attorney Adams explained that perpetrators use these “sex apps” to seek out minors. The men charged were allegedly replying to advertisements for sex. However, these advertisements were posted by detectives. The men allegedly made plans to meet with minors from the advertisements. Upon arriving to the meet up spot, the men were actually met by undercover detectives and were placed under arrest.

District Attorney Adams emphasized that many of the victims on these “sex apps” are not there voluntarily. He also noted that victims don’t always see themselves as victims. Victims are often lured into the commercial sexual exploitation under the control of someone else or to sustain an addiction, for example. District Attorney Adams ensured that future perpetrators will be arrested and prosecuted, “to the fullest extent of the law.”

The CSE Institute advocates for the equality model and supports law enforcement targeting demand in the sex trade. The four key elements of the equality model are (1) decriminalization of persons in prostitution, (2) criminalization of sex buyers and facilitators with a commitment to treating buying sex as a serious crime, (3) a public education campaign about the inherent harms of prostitution, and (4) funded, robust, holistic exit services for victims of commercial sexual exploitation. By criminalizing the buying of sex to decrease demand with the goal of decreasing the number of victims of commercial sexual exploitation within our communities. Further, the decriminalization of people in prostitution recognizes that people being bought and sold for sex are victims being exploited, rather than criminals worthy of punishment.

The CSE Institute commends the Berks County District Attorney’s Office, Spring Township PD, Wyomissing PD, Exeter PD, West Reading PD, Central Berks PD, Department of Homeland Security, and ZOE International for their efforts in investigating and arresting these suspects. The CSE Institute also applauds Berks County District Attorney John Adams for taking a stand against human trafficking and targeting the demand in the sex trade. By targeting the demand of sex buyers, the law enforcement officials are targeting the root cause of sexual exploitation.

The CSE Institute will continue to provide updates on this matter.

All views expressed herein are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law or of Villanova University.

Category: News

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